TED talks are a constant source of inspiration for the rest of the world. In a short 10-20 minute presentation, some of the most groundbreaking theories, ideas and revolutions have been shared. One of the greatest aspects of these conferences is that the talks are later uploaded and shared online for the world to keep discovering or coming back to. As parents and adults in general, we never stop learning so here are six talks in particular that we feel everyone should watch!
TEDxHouston, Texas (2010)
“When you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak.
When you ask people about belonging, they tell you about their most excruciating experiences of being excluded.
And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection”.
Brené Brown is a research-storyteller, well, if you could class that as a job – an anecdote to which she begins this fascinating talk about the power of vulnerability and living as one of the “whole-hearted”. With a background in social work, qualitative research and data analysis, she’s based her entire career around measurement, limits and analytics. Yet, coming across a stumbling block in her research, her theory and world view unravelled before her eyes as she realised that true connection comes from a place of vulnerability, worthiness and a sense of love and belonging. “To feel vulnerable [and allow myself to be seen] means I’m alive”, Brown explains, and she urges her audience to “love with your whole heart”.
TED Växjö, Sweden (2015)
Loneliness and cigarette smoking have an equal chance of killing you. Loneliness won’t just make you miserable, it will kill you,” Guy Winch declares in a steely, matter-of-fact manner. We visit the doctor when we feel unwell or not ourselves, so why don’t we seek out a health professional when we feel emotional pain like loss, guilt or loneliness?
Celebrated psychologist Guy Winch presents a compelling talk about why we don’t value mental health enough – like we do our physical health – and how we should practice emotional hygiene and emotional first aid when we encounter issues. Guy explains that our minds are complex and convincing – once we become convinced of something it’s actually very difficult to change our minds. Physical strength and mental strength go hand-in-hand and we could all do with changing our mental habits by fighting feelings of helplessness, breaking the negative cycle and believing that you can succeed in anything.
TED Long Beach, California (2012)
An author and former Wall Street lawyer, Susan Cain recounts childhood experiences as in introvert in a very extrovert summer camp. She ditched a love of books, quiet reflection and solitude to “embrace camp spirit” because that’s what the world around her dictated – something that would follow throughout her life. She explains that, as an introvert, the world made Susan make self-negating choices reflexively – forcing herself to go out and meet people, to sell herself in the boardroom, to chase speaking opportunities – when her mind and body craved the opposite.
Susan thinks there’s a fundamental change that needs to happen today in the introvert/extrovert balance. She cites Eleanor Roosevelt, Ghandi, Rosa Parks as prime examples of introverts who had no desire to be heard, but also had no choice in speaking up for themselves and what they believed in. What made them confident, self-assured and experts in their field was the very fact they were introverted (which isn’t a blanket term for shy, quiet and unsure).
“Solitude matters, especially for creativity,” she urges, pointing to classrooms and workplaces built for team work and the ‘new group think’, perfectly primed for a loudest-voice-wins scenario when the loudest voice in the room is not always right.
TEDxNorrköping, Sweden (2014)
Carol Dweck is a pioneering psychologist and researcher in the field of motivation and success and this recent talk deals with the power of “yet” and creating a ‘growth mindset’ – the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and solve problems.
Carol gives an example of a school in Chicago that – instead of giving out fails for tests, projects and assignments – gives out ‘not yet’ marks, a motivational indicator and path to future success.
Dweck describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve: are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet? She explains that abilities can be developed; we can learn from errors and correct them for the future (especially relevant for parents!) and she poses the question: “Are we raising our children for ‘now’ instead of ‘yet’?”
TEDxOcala, Florida (2015)
“The only way to get through uncomfortable emotions is to go through them, feel [them] and then move on and gain confidence in your ability to deal with that discomfort”
In a very personal talk, psychotherapist and author Amy Morin explains what our bad habits cost us. She says that feeling negatively about yourself, others or the world gives away your power and that you have choices in every situation. It start with building mental strength and changing your bad habits. Much like physical strength, you need to exercise your mental capacity to regulate thoughts, manage emotions and behave or relate productively and positively despite whatever life throws at us. Amy explains that your greatest potential is unlocked when you’ve built strong mental strength and positive mental habits. “Your world is what you make it… before you can change your world, you have to believe you can change it,” she urges.
TEDxEast End, London (2015)
Felicity is an Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Traumatic Studies at Kings College London. Her research, the basis of this talk, outlines cycles and patterns in violence, pain, trauma and loss all around the world. The first two years of life are crucial (something we vehemently understand and endorse at Parental Pathways) and we seem to develop a ‘hologram self’ designed by what others expect us to be. Experiences of violence early on don’t need to replicated in later life and Felicity outlines a ‘green zone’ of mindfulness that can counteract and even break that cycle.